By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Washington (CNN)– Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.
The company opposes providing some contraceptives to employees through its company health care plan on religious grounds, saying some contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion.
After failing to receive temporary relief from the fines from the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby announced late Thursday through its attorneys that it "will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs."
In September, Hobby Lobby and affiliate Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain, sued the federal government for violating their owners' religious freedom and ability to freely exercise their religion.
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"All they're asking for is a narrow exemption from the law that says they don't have to provide drugs they believe cause abortions," Hobby Lobby attorney Kyle Duncan, a general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told CNN affiliate KFOR in November. "Our basic point is the government can't put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law."
The lawsuit says the companies' religious beliefs prohibit them from providing insurance coverage for abortion inducing drugs. As of August 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employer-provided health care plans to provide "all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Churches and houses of worship are exempt from the regulation and a narrow exemption was added for nonprofit religious employers whose employees "primarily share its religious tenets" and who "primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets."
In the face of that opposition, the Department of Health and Human Services tweaked its original rule in February to require health insurers, not employers, to cover the cost of contraception coverage, reasoning that would prevent religious groups from having to finance such coverage. Critics have argued that exemption for nonprofits is far too narrow and a host of nonprofit religious groups have sued the administration over the regulations.
The Internal Revenue Service regulations now say that a group health care plan that "fails to comply" with the Affordable Care Act is subject to an "excise tax" of "$100 per day per individual for each day the plan does not comply with the requirement." It remains unclear how the IRS would implement and collect the excise tax.
The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, based Hobby Lobby chain has more than 500 stores that employ 13,000 employees across 42 states, and takes in $2.6 billion in sales. The company's attorneys say January begins a new health care plan year for Hobby Lobby and that excise tax from the IRS would amount to $1.3 million a day.
Hobby Lobby is owned by CEO and founder David Green and members of his family. "The foundation of our business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with biblical principles," a statement on the Hobby Lobby website reads, adding that one outgrowth of that is the store is closed on Sundays to give its employees a day of rest. Each year the company also takes out full-page ads in numerous newspapers proclaiming its faith at Christmastime and on Independence Day.
The store is not formally connected to any denomination, but the Green family supports numerous Christian ministries and is behind the Green Collection, one of the largest private collections of biblical antiquities in the world. The family plans to permanently house the collection in Washington at a museum set to open in 2016.
On Friday, attorneys for Hobby Lobby petitioned the Supreme Court to intervene and provide temporary relief from the the fines until the case was decided by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
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Wednesday evening, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency appeals from the 10th Circuit Court, said the company failed to meet "the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief," and that it could continue to pursue its challenge in lower courts and return to the higher court, if necessary, after a final judgment.
"Hobby Lobby will continue their appeal before the 10th Circuit. The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time," Duncan said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the high court's move.
White House officials have long said they believe they have struck an appropriate compromise between religious exemptions and women's health. The White House has not commented specifically on the Hobby Lobby case.
"It's just so sad that Hobby Lobby is facing this choice. What company, even a successful family owned business like Hobby Lobby, how can they afford the government $1.3 million in fines every day? It's just really absurd that government is not giving on this," said Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser for the Catholic Association. Religious liberty groups like hers are watching the Hobby Lobby case closely.
"I am optimistic that these cases will eventually snake their way back up to the Supreme Court and given a full hearing on the merits of the case, I am confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of religious liberty," Ferguson said. "But in the meantime there is serious damage being done to businesses like Hobby Lobby and nonprofit charitable organizations."
The Hobby Lobby case is just one of many before the courts over the religious exemption aspects of the law. The case represents by far the biggest for-profit group challenging the health care mandate.
After this piece of the law went into effect in August, religious nonprofits were given "safe harbor" of one year from implementing the law. "In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said in January when the administration announced the move.
Dolan's New York Archdiocese won a victory this month in its legal battle against the administration and the mandate. In May it sued the government in federal court in Brooklyn over the mandate, saying it "unconstitutionally attempts to define the nature of the church's religious ministry and would force religious employers to violate their consciences."
The government moved to have the case dismissed. On December 4, Judge Brian M. Cogan denied the government's motion to dismiss the case, saying the government's promise of changes to how it will implement the law were not enough to merit dismissal. "There is no, 'Trust us, changes are coming' clause in the Constitution," Cogan wrote in in his decision to let the case proceed.
UPDATE: Hobby Lobby's $1.3 million Obamacare loophole
As a Jehovah's Witness business owner, my employees will not be allowed to get blood transfusions.
As a Scientology business owner, my employees will not be allowed to get psychiatric or psychological coverage.
As a Christian Science business owner, my employees will not be allowed to seek medical coverage of any kind – prayer only.
As a Christian business owner, my female employees will not be allowed to get basic gynecological coverage.
See how stupid it sounds?
As a socialist I believe government should mandate that other people provide benefits to me whether they oppose them on moral grounds or not. I mean really, let's just be reasonable and compromise here.
As a capitalist, if I don't want my employees to have access to health care because of my personal whacky religious beliefs, I don't have to offer health care benefits.
Does the law of the country, where they practice business, require them to provide this service? Since the answer is yes, and they will not get the preferential exemption, then they better get ready to pay the fines. If they get an exemption, then every other company has grounds to ask for one to a part of the law they don't like. Just because the owners of the company have issues with contraception doesn't mean every employee does.
Why are female Hobby Lobby employees requesting Morning After pills? Why doesn't the company just tell them not to ask for the prescriptions, and therefore not sin? Problem solved! No babies killed! Duh. They are making this waaaay too complicated and costing themselves a huge amount of money when the solution is right under their nosy noses. They could make the problem go away in one hour with a company-wide email.
I have been following this on other news reports (Life News, Catholic Register). I agree with your point. Even though Hobby Lobby offers contraceptive, it is up to the individual to exercise free will and not take advantage of it. And Obama is wrong and is lying. Birth control is NOT against a woman and her doctor, but a woman and her God because abortion (which CAN and DOES cause abortion) violates the commandment "Thou Shall Not Kill". This just proves Obama is a deceiver.
You are simply a moron. Problem solved huh? Are you going to help take care of the kid if she is pregnant? NO You are a phony crooked christian conservative that doesn't care about the kids once they are born. You quote the bible before birth, after the kid is born, You don't care.
Iroy, you can't even make a cogent post. Who needs your say-so when you don't have a clue as to what your say-so is. Your post is utterly meaningless and you are completely incoherent..
Just to clear up any confusion, the morning after pill is not abortion inducing as this company claims. Let's have a biology lesson shall we? When sperm is released into a woman during intercourse, that is not the time of fertilization. In many cases, the sperm live inside the female for up to four days before fertilization occurs. That is why the morning after pill works. It prevents fertilization BEFORE it happens. That is why it says on the container that it will not be effective after three days and the sooner you take it after intercourse the greater your chances of not becoming pregnant. If it were an abortion inducing drug then why are there lawsuits against the company that makes Plan B morning afterpill because the plantiff after taking the drug still became pregnant. I am an evangelical Christian. I personally believe that all life is a gift from God and should be protected, but I am also a scientist and believe that knowledge and wisdom comes from God. If I were Sotomayor, I would have shot their case down too, simply because their argument is flawed.
With respect, you are incorrect. The morning after pill (like most BC) works in 3 ways. 1) prevent ovulation (thus prevent fertilization) 2) weaken cervical mucous to prevent the sperm from entering the uterous (probably not applicable for the morning after pill) 3) make the uterine lining an inhospitable environment to an embryo (aka: newly formed human)
Then you should know that life begins at Conception. Therefore the ending of life after that point is murder.
That's not exactly how the morning after pill works.
The first response was almost correct with one small problem. If the embryo doesn't attach, the woman is not pregnant, and therefore cannot possibly have an abortion.
I find the "life begins at conception" arguement laughable. Show me how a dead sperm or a dead egg can, either one of them, start a pregnancy? BOTH must be alive when they combine. Life doesn't start at conception, it merges, continues, and transforms. And if your God is all powerful, then why do you believe that a single soul is lost to abortion? Do you really think an all knowing, all loving, all powerful God would bothe rputting a soul into an embryo, knowing the mother would have an abortion? You give your God too little credit.
Who cares how the pills works as long as it works!! Everyone that has questions can simply look it up. My complaint is this "life begins at conception" crap. Mind your business. If you're going to help pay for those kids, fine. Pay up and shut up. If you have no money, then you have no opinion.
RE, you're the one who is incorrect. Read the literature. The PRIMARY function of the morning after pill is to stop a woman from ovulating. If an egg is present already and fertilization has occurred, it MAY prevent implantation, but there is some speculation that this is NOT what occurs. Regardless, as mentioned, nobody is pregnant until an egg implants. Something like 40% or more of fertilized eggs fail to implant regardless. Are you going to call those "abortions'?
I'll bet in the breakroom of the Hobby Lobby they have a poster, required by law to be in a location seen by employees, which states the minimum wage and certain OSHA notifications. It also has a little section about discrimination. I'll bet you know what I'm talking about, there's one where you work too. Take a little time to read it. The federal govt provides a minimum set of rules on what it expects from businesses making money from the labor of its citizens. Businesses can't discriminate in who they hire, fire, or provide compensation to (Betty Ledbetter, bless her soul). That's my kind of country! WHAT'S YOURS???
This would work if Hobby Lobby can be declared a religion. The legal exceptions are churchs and religious nonprofits, who are in the business of religion. The Temple of Hobby Lobby, put on your yarmulka before entering.
Implementación y seguimiento de sus campañas de marketing en Internet, el diseño de sus páginas de los eventos, correo electrónico, boletín de noticias, creación de banners y diseño gráfico para la web e imprimir su arte.
Yeah this makes total sense.
we got a good one here in chicago to.the thomas moore society allso deserves praise for there victories in the fight for religious liberty.we will win and be assured we will fight you with all our abilty to overcome any darts lies you use against the unborn.
That's More with only ONE "O". I make the same mistake myself. He was a good egg.
you can all be sure the becket fund for religious liberty will win in favor of h.b. judging from past cases beckit got the courts on there side.
Why do people think women are nothing but farm animals? The Rick Santorum BS about having s ex only to have children is about as caveman as you can get. S ex has medicinal purposes (relieve stress, lower blood pressure etc). Birth control is probably one of the greatest inventions in history.
No doubt whatsoever. It is well doc umented that nations in which women can control their reproductive lives, limit the size of their families, and space the births of their children are almost without exception better off in terms of economic health than nations in which women have little or no control over their own reproduction.
I wonder if the morons here who are advocating NO birth control measures have a fvcking clue what kind of society we'd have if everyone were as stupid as they are?
When the women are better off, men are better off. To your credit, you have mentioned before that birth control will actually LOWER the cost of healthcare for all.
Thanks. What is truly mind-boggling is that so many of the dipwads here can't figure it out. What do they think? That married women will remain virginal until they WANT to get pregnant? How do the idiot men posting this crap not get the irony?
What stuns me is how many people apparently don't understand that if exceptions apply to birth control, they could apply to anything: cancer treatments, blood transfusions, anything. The implications are enormous. The other thing they don't seem to get is that this money is the workers, part of the total compensation package. It's merely managed by the company to allow everyone to be covered and get a better rate. It isn't the "company's money".
And the idiots that are arguing against it are using economic arguments, when HL has already SAID this has nothing to do with cost but with their "religious beliefs."
So what is it? God or bucks?
Yeah, you've got to assume these folks don't read much. They don't seem to understand basic economics, biology or how business works. The thing is though that people rarely know what they don't know.
Sad state of affairs.
Obamacare is getting more popular as time passes. Once people see their are no "death panels" or Government take overs in addition to the benefits, it will be as routine as a republican being miserable.
Betcha their insurance covers the use of viagra.
Saraswati-Not really (unless your Jehovah Witness), because birth control takes into the very real possibility of the end of a newly created human being. While transfusions, and cancer treatments may have the same result, you have a choice-to take the risk, unborn humans don't.
Iroy, you are simply wrong, wrong, wrong. Birth control does NOT end any life, "new" or otherwise. How can anyone be this completely misinformed?
If you're a male, please never have s3x without wearing a rubber. The gene pool hardly needs a contribution of genes from more stupid people.
To the men that are against any form of birth control, I have one question. If you eliminate or severely restrict birth control to the point women are afraid to have s ex. Who are the guys going to have s ex with?
@Tom..................Pretty much the same as it is now huh? :)
tom tom thr fertile egg is a little baby just concieved.are you nuts????????????//
@david............ a fertilized egg is NOT a baby. You cannot "age" the egg to fit your argument.
Something with no neurons is a baby? I'll stick to my definition. I consider a chicken closer to a baby than a few undifferentiated cells.
People need to understand, because you take the pill it does not mean you were pregnant. Nothing is confirmed.
David isn't terribly good at trolling or posing as a poe. Too obvious.
I wonder if people reading the david dumdum posts realize how many fertilized eggs fail to ever implant, regardless of any intervention?
I doubt david defrank would even measure up to david deviennasausage
You're only part right. It is not a baby per se, but it is a HUMAN BEING-just like you and I. Even if it does not have arms and legs and eyes, etc. it is still a human being. Even a one cell zygote is a human being-not a monkey or a dog or a cat. If it wasn't alive, it wouldn't split into two cells, then four cells, etc.
@Iroy.....................You are simply delusional. You compare an embryo the a baby. That's crackhead talk.
It's alive. It is NOT a human being. It's a blastocyst or an embryo and the morning-after pill has nothing to do with it. Get a friggin clue.
The religious zealots in the country wish to discriminate against anyone who does not "believe".
Notice nobody says anything against vasectomies? This anti birth control nonsense is a issue to control women. Sadly some of the women in this blog is supporting an effort to control them.
no the plan is to kill little babies. satan got you bad.you are talking about the killing of a human
I have 2 children. My wife has never had an abortion. I'm against the death penalty. I'm a registered organ donor. I'm pro gun control. I do not think about killing ANYBODY. Eggs are not children. That is why they are called EGGS.
This is just another abuse of corporate personhood under the disguise of religion so the sheep will support them.
Yeah let's let our employers trump our doctors and our personal choices in healthcare. That seems wise. Perhaps the next one down the line will refuse to allow HIV medications to be covered in their policy because it's something that ONLY gay people get and Leviticus says it's wrong. Oh wait. You mean HIV isn't a gay disease? Whatever. Can't be bothered with facts. It's wrong because I say it's wrong. No insurance for you.
We already have groups that would, if they had this power, refuse to pay for blood transfusions, anything tested on animals or any care beyond prayer. It's a very shortsighted view that can't see the trap this would lead us into.
Yeah let's let our government trump our pastors and our personal choices in morality. That seems wise. Perhaps the next one down the line will refuse to allow people to pray at work because it's something that should ONLY be done in the privacy of the home and the ACLU says it's wrong. Oh wait. You mean prayer is something protected by the Establishment clause? Whatever. Can't be bothered with facts. It's wrong because I say it's wrong. No religion for you.
settecase, where and when has anyone proposed any law that prohibits you or anyone else from praying? Where and when did the ACLU say that prayer was "wrong"? When and where is anyone forcing you to use contraceptives against your will? In what are your personal choices, OR the personal choices of the owners of HL, being denied?
No intelligence from you, moron.
@settecase, Health benefits are part of the money I earn as an employee of a company. The only reason the company is handling what is money I earned (or I wouldn't be employed) is that our health system is messed up and this is the only way people can get a good deal, or, if they have pre-existing conditions, any deal. So essentially the company is taking my money and choosing to spend it by their own ethical belief systems rather than a broader option that allows me the care I might need.
Ladies, just shop at Lady GaGa's Doctrines & Duffs. That'll show em.
These so called "christian" companies are a bunch of crooks/liars and use the Healthcare law to HURT and enslave women by denying them the same rights that is given to their male employees.
Havildar- Hobby Lobby is OWNED by David Green and his family! They should not be made to pay for ANYONES abortion! David Green and his family ARE human beings! Your argument is therefore flawed Havildar!!!
This sets a precedent that other for-profit companies could follow. Companies owned by Christian Scientists could refuse to have health insurance that covers any modern medicine. Mormon companies could refuse to cover medicines that contain alcohol, and so on. Do you want someone else's religion to tell you you can't eat pork? Do you want to be told you can't drink alcohol because someone else's religion is setting the rules? Freedom of religion protects you from OTHER PEOPLE'S religion. If you don't want an abortion, then don't get one.
Havi are you a so-called antichrist with a so-called bwain?
Nobody is "paying for abortions" by providing basic health care. What contraceptives will do is PREVENT abortions.
Do you people EVER think?
Hobby Lobby should be the ones deciding how they are going to spend their money. if they dont believe in the morning after pill then they shouldnt be obligated to pay for it. This is just the governments way of saying if you dont do what we want you to do they we are going to make you by bankrupting you.
I practically live in Hobby Lobby and it would be devastating if they were to shut down any because of this.
This is NOT a free country anymore
ITS ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE
*** All i have to say is if they try to come to the south and take our guns, they arent getting them without a fight*** BET ON IT!!!!
Why don't you just secede?
If women took up arms to protect their reproductive freedom, conservatives would be screaming for gun control.
Hobby Lobby is a business operating in the Unites States. They are not a religious group. They do not get to pick and choose which laws they want to obey.
Trying to protect Hobby Lobby cheapens every individuals rights to freedom of religious expression.
Equus_ They have to pay for killing unborn children? That is simply not right!
The precedent is that any company can decide anything based on any reason. Hobby Lobby is going about it the wrong way. They need to work to decouple healthcare insurance from business in the first place! (and not take it out on their employees, like they are now)
If they don't want to cover it they shouldn't have to? What if your company didn't want to cover a heart medication you needed because it was tested on animals and the company was against that. How would you feel about that?
They don't "pay" for the pills. They pay for the coverage. The price remains the same whether or not these pills in question are included or not. They're just shooting themselves in the foot on this. Seriously how many Hobby Lobby female employees are lining up to get the morning after pill? My guess would be ZERO.
woodstockwoody even if it is 0 , its still goes against everything they believe
So fvcking what? Spending money on unnecessary wars is against everything I believe in. Why should my taxes pay for wars that should never have been fought?
Did you morons EVER take a class in government and how democracy works?
1) As members of society we pay for stuff we don't want to pay for all the time. That's the whole point of a society rather than anarchy. I don't think people should have more than 2 children, but I pay for every kid to go to school at a cost of about $13,000 a year per child. We suck it up and try to work together as best we can.
2) It's not Hobby Lobby's money. It's money earned by the worker through his or her labor – that's why it's included in the compensation package. Hobby Lobby is spending it on the worker's behalf to get a better deal from the insurance company, and they must do so in a way regulated by the government or we'd have Jehova's witness refusing blood transfusions and Christian scientists refusing to arrange health care at all...and that would leave anyone over 40 or who has a family member with a medical condition pretty much out in the cold.
Even if HL doesn't win, which they probably wont, I admire them for standing up for their religious beliefs. Its nice to see someone stand up to the government for a change, call it what you will but I have respect for them for not cowering down to the government like everyone else does
By "cowering down" you apparently mean "obeying the laws" duly passed by our elected representatives.
I'm not a fan of Obamacare. I think it will end up being ruinously expensive and have the unattended side effect of having major corporations drop health insurance for their employees. That said......
#1. Science says that morning after pill "plan-B" does NOT cause a termination of existing preganancies. It does not even prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. What it does is inhibit ovulation (like normal birth control) and is only effective within 24-48 hours of unprotected intercourse. Hobby Lobby want to make up its own science.
#2. A FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION does not have religions freedoms. CITIZENS have religious freedoms. By forcing Hobby Lobby to comply with the law, the government is protecting the religious freedoms of its CITIZENS. Each CITIZEN that works for Hobby Lobby will have the choice to do whatever his or her conscience dictates.
#3. If Hobby Lobby was allowed to be exempt from the law, this sets a precendent that other For Profit Companies could follow. Companies owned by Christian Scientists could refuse to have health insurance that covers any modern medicine. Mormon companies could refuse to cover medecines that contain alchol, and so on and so on.
dynamite your science is wrong.it does prevent implantation.get your facts straight
dedummy, no one is pregnant until the fertilized egg is implanted. And your opinion on the matter is irrelevant.
Just because the Health Policy pays for contraceptives it does not compel anyone to actually use it.
Corporations are not living Human Beings and as such have zero rights to fake concerns about"religious belief." That same religion also forbids Wars and killings. How come they are not complaining about that?
Any treatment that is Legal and approved by the FDA should be PAID for by all Health care Insurance. You do not like it than it is just too bad.
Defrank – Stop watching fox news and maybe you will actually get the right facts. It DOES NOT prevent implantation.
Tom is right anway.
Rynomite- The article says that Hobby Lobby is owned by David Green and his family. Therefore it is not publicly traded and is to my knowledge privately owned! Correct me if I am wrong! If they (the Green family) are the owners then it is wrong to make them pay to kill unborn children!!! It is wrong anyway, but way wrong in this case!
Lindsey, there is NO ABORTION issue here! Contraceptives do not cause abortions. THEY PREVENT THEM.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.